Re: In defense of pdf help systems

Subject: Re: In defense of pdf help systems
From: "Higgins, Lisa" <LHiggins -at- CARRIERACCESS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 12:51:17 -0600

Maybe I should clarify what I meant when I said I don't like PDF deliveries.
I don't like PDF as a sole, final method of delivery. I use it all the time
for review and urgent deliveries, and I absolutely don't have a problem with
providing PDF as an alternate format. What I resent, as an end-user and
customer, is paying for a product and then getting documentation that
requires me to download and/or install new software, then print it out on my

I have no issue with PDF documents as an alternative to HTML or printed
books or online help systems. I also have no issue with PDF documents that I
don't pay for. I genuinely appreciate that so many people have put their own
time and effort into providing, gratis, white papers and technical documents
on the web and so forth, and I wouldn't dream of complaining about that.

But it's linear. Online help is not linear. PDF documents churn and wheeze
and take a while to start up. They're rarely designed for online viewing.
They are not flexible with their line lengths the way HTML is, and they're
not short, fast, and chunky like most online help systems are. As a coworker
and as a piker searching the web for free stuff, I appreciate PDF documents.
As a customer, I feel cheated by them.


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